The quality of life of medical students studying in New Zealand: a comparison with nonmedical students and a general population reference group

Teach Learn Med. 2012;24(4):334-40. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2012.715261.


Background: Quality of life is an essential component of learning and has strong links with the practice and study of medicine. There is burgeoning evidence in the research literature to suggest that medical students are experiencing health-related problems such as anxiety, depression, and burnout.

Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate medical students' perceptions concerning their quality of life.

Methods: Two hundred seventy-four medical students studying in their early clinical years (response rate = 80%) participated in the present study. Medical students were asked to fill in the abbreviated version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire to elicit information about their quality of life perceptions in relation to their physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environment. Subsequently, their responses were compared with two nonmedical students groups studying at a different university in the same city and an Australian general population norm. The findings were compared using independent group's t tests, confidence intervals, and Cohen's d.

Results: The main finding of the study indicated that medical students had similar quality of life perceptions to nonmedical students except in relation to the environment domain. Furthermore, the medical student group scored lower than the general population reference group on the physical health, psychological health, and environment quality of life domains.

Conclusions: The results suggest that all university students are expressing concerns related to quality of life, and thus their health might be at risk. The findings in this study provided no evidence to support the notion that medical students experience lower levels of quality of life compared to other university students. When compared to the general population, all student groups examined in this study appeared to be experiencing lower levels of quality of life. This has implications for pastoral support, educationalists, student support personnel, and the university system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • New Zealand
  • Perception
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Schools, Medical*
  • Self Care
  • Social Environment
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult